Elli Friedmann Series

Elli Friedmann Series

Name: I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust / My Bridges of Hope

Author: Livia Bitton-Jackson

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Pages:  618

Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir, History, Religion, War

Setting:  Europe, 1938-1951

Opening Line: “I dream of enrolling in the prep school in Budapest, the capital city.”

Favorite Quote: “There is no good-bye. There is only hello. To the ocean and its timeless, infinite majesty, which separates you from the anguished past. To the distant horizon.”

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Rating: 2 out of 5

I initially began to read the Elli Friedmann series because my A.P. U.S. History teacher gave me books about the Holocaust as a gift. Being a book lover, I’ll read every book I can get my hands on. This series is all about the author’s experience before, during, and after the Holocaust. The first book, I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust, begins how Elli Friedmann (the author changed her name) was before 1944; she would write poetry almost every day and talk to her family and friends about senseless things. She would talk to her neighbors without stressing over anything. Following a month after her thirteenth birthday, things began to change for her, her family, and millions of people all around the world. In March 1944, the Nazis invaded Hungary. At that point of her life, she and millions of Jews had to wear a distinguished garment, the yellow badge, to inform everyone that passes their path that they are Jews. Elli also couldn’t talk to anyone that was Christian or Catholic. A few days later, the authorities tell Elli’s family to pack a few of their belongings and go to a ghetto. The ghetto is the place where Elli and some of her family members get separated. After that separation, Elli and her mother go to a few concentration camps around Europe, including the notorious Auschwitz. In the first book of the series, Bitton-Jackson talks about the atrocities that she saw at such a young age. All through the book, Elli portrays her appearance, so you realize that she goes from a sensible, blue-eyed young lady with wonderful blonde locks to a mobile skeleton with a miserable look and a shaven head. One of the things that the author wrote that really struck me was that she was spared due to her hair. The Angel of Death let her and her mother live because of her golden locks. If it wasn’t for her hair, Elli and her mother would have been sent to the gas chambers.
In the second book of the series, My Bridges of Hope, Elli discusses her experience after the Holocaust. This is the main reason why I like this book. Barely any Holocaust survivors’ books show what happens after the war was over. The writers will let you know that many years later they moved to another country such as United States, Israel, and England, but they won’t inform the readers about their life after the liberation. My Bridges of Hope shows how there’s still anti-Semitism around Europe. It shows how Elli and her family didn’t have a proper home because everything was taken from them and were basically nomads for six more years. It demonstrates that in spite of the fact that fighters from United States, Great Britain, and USSR liberated the Jews, they were not all saints. Many of them would catcall and rape girls around Europe. The second book displays the struggle of people immigrating to other countries. My Bridges of Hope is slightly an uncommon book with regards to the subject of the Holocaust. Elli tells the audience that she’s a Zionist implying that she supports the State of Israel. I have perused numerous books about this sort of subject yet never from a Zionist’s perspective. It was exceptionally fascinating to peruse about Jews’ ensembles and customs.
The reasons why I rated the Elli Friedmann series sort of low is on the grounds that it wasn’t intriguing. It’s more informative than anything else. It informs about the struggles that the Jews had to go through, but it wasn’t filled with emotion or anything like that. It had numerous energizing arrangements; however they were in some cases said with an extremely monotone character voice, which reduced a lot of their energy to spellbind. The reader literally learns nothing about Elli with the exception of the different focuses on the course of events of her life. I was amped up for this book in light of the fact that I had trusted it would give some sort of clarification in the matter of how she and the remaining individuals from her family started to recuperate from the past, however, nothing in respect. I feel like this series was more of a chronology than anything else; there were no feelings, no brokenness, nothing.
It took me a while to read this book. When I read a book, I either read it in maybe a couple of days on the off-chance that it’s engaging or in a week or two if it’s a tad bit boring. Although, I didn’t enjoy reading this series, there were people who liked reading about Elli’s experience. I recommend this book to readers that need to know all the more about existence after the world war; to individuals that need to know more about the Iron Curtain and mass immigration. I’ll have to say that I have not read the last book of this series which is called Hello, America: A Refugee’s Journey from Auschwitz to the New World but I plan on reading it this year. This series has its snippets of magnificence, however surely insufficient to make this worthwhile.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Livia Bitton-Jackson, born Elli L. Friedmann in Czechoslovakia, was thirteen when she, her mother, and her sibling were taken to Auschwitz. They were freed in 1945 and went to the United States on an evacuee watercraft in 1951. She got a PhD in Hebrew society and Jewish history from New York University. Dr. Bitton-Jackson has been a professor of history at City University of New York for thirty-seven years. Her previous books incorporate Elli: Coming of Age in the Holocaust, which received the Christopher Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award, and the Jewish Heritage Award. Dr. Bitton-Jackson lives in Israel with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

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